Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-04-01
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

VIEWS How to stamp out transgender 'bathroom panic'
by Nathaniel Frank
2016-04-20

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


This article originally appeared in The Los Angeles Times.

Social conservatives in North Carolina used a familiar playbook when they helped pass a draconian law restricting which restrooms transgender people can use. The tactic was fear: They whipped up anxieties about modesty and vulnerability in public restrooms until they created full-fledged "bathroom panic" over victimization by sexual predators. This week, with banks, businesses and Bruce Springsteen announcing boycotts to protest the discriminatory law, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory announced half-measures to try to dampen the backlash, but he did nothing to alter the deception inherent in bathroom panic.

The North Carolina law, House Bill 2, took aim at an ordinance that was about to go into effect in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Charlotte City Council had voted to prohibit discrimination against gay and transgender people in public accommodations and by government contractors, expanding an existing law that protected other minorities. In response, the state legislature invalidated the ordinance and seized the opportunity to target transgender people using the crudest—and most baseless—of fears: "No men in women's bathrooms."

When McCrory signed HB2 into law, he claimed he was protecting the "basic expectation of privacy in the most personal of settings" and acting to stop a "radical breach of trust and security." Peter Sprigg of the conservative Family Research Council defended the need to force transgender people into restrooms aligned with their birth gender by citing "legitimate fears that people have about their safety." Yet hundreds of similar nondiscrimination measures are in place across America, and law enforcement officials have reported no surge in bathroom victimization as a result.

Sprigg and company borrowed their playbook from a successful effort in Houston last year. With a ballot measure, voters there repealed a nondiscrimination ordinance after a campaign that included an ominous television ad showing a man in a dress following a little girl into a bathroom stall.

As the New York Times reported, the ballot measure fight was turned "from one about equal rights to one about protecting women and girls from sexual predators." The anti-discrimination ordinance lost, 61 percent to 39 percent.

Fear-mongering against gay and transgender people is a time-tested strategy, despite plenty of evidence that there is nothing to fear but fear itself.

Such fear mongering against gays and transgender people is a time-tested strategy, despite plenty of evidence that there is nothing to fear but fear itself. In the battle for marriage equality, the nation was told time and again that marriage itself, along with the American family, would be imperiled if same-sex couples were allowed to marry. "Freedom will be taken away," said one infamous 2009 ad titled "Gathering Storm." Religion would be destroyed because the clergy would be forced to conduct same-sex weddings, no matter their convictions. Yet none of these doomsday scenarios has come to pass.

The particular terrors that fueled the campaigns in Houston and North Carolina have an even longer history. In the debate over "don't ask, don't tell," opponents of openly gay service spent decades fanning the flames of anxiety about straight recruits sharing quarters—sharing showers!—with known gays and lesbians. At one point, senators held congressional hearings in the bowels of a nuclear submarine to infuse the news cycle with frightening images of the compromised privacy of military life. The message was clear: In such conditions, gay people were not to be trusted, unit cohesion could not be maintained and an inclusive policy would be a clear and present danger to the United States.

Again, none of this was true, as a wealth of research before and after "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" concluded. ( Some of it was buried by those opposed to change.}

A 2003 Palm Center study found that the experience of military and paramilitary organizations that lifted their gay bans showed that "cohesion, morale, recruitment, retention and privacy will be preserved or even enhanced" by ending policies that required gay people to lie about their identities or stay out of uniform. Other scholars noted that, all across the globe, people in various contexts that might seem erotic ( especially when social conservatives insisted on eroticizing them ) in fact developed an "etiquette of disregard." In doctor's offices, in military barracks, in locker rooms and restrooms, most people simply finished their business and ignored those around them. Those who had predicted disaster were spectacularly wrong.

But no amount of evidence seems capable of stopping the fear strategy. The Rand Corp. has completed a new study on transgender military service concluding, unsurprisingly, that ending discrimination against transgender troops will not harm military readiness. The Pentagon has neither released the study nor met its own deadline for reviewing the policy. Sen. James M. Inhofe ( R-Okla. ), who wrongly predicted that openly gay military service would "complicate things" and "make it very difficult for us to take care of the troops," is now opposing service by transgender troops because—guess what—he can't understand which bathrooms they would use. And Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, who had earlier wrongly predicted that openly gay troops would drive away one-quarter of the military, is now predicting that transgender service will increase sexual assaults.

Voters should see these kinds of fear-based charges for what they are—a cynical, angry and wildly inaccurate response to LGBT people gaining equal rights. In the barracks and at the marriage altar and in the bathroom, equality for sexual minorities does not cause harm to others.

Nathaniel Frank is the director of the What We Know Project at Columbia Law School. He is completing a book on the history of the marriage-equality fight.


facebook twitter google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

LETTER Missing Marc 2020-04-03 - Dear Editor: I want to add some thoughts about the contributions Marc Loveless made beyond those mentioned in his obituary in the ...


Gay News

COVID-19, closed churches and LGBTQ Catholics 2020-03-29 - Is anyone anywhere around the globe thinking about anything other than COVID-19, the coronavirus that has paralyzed almost all human activity? I imagine ...


Gay News

OPEN LETTER Census 2020: The LGBTQ+ community counts 2020-03-27 - It's a new decade, and that means it's time to complete the Census. The Census is done every 10 years, and informs ...


Gay News

Chief judge weighs in on bail reviews during COVID-19 epidemic 2020-03-21 - The Circuit Court of Cook County, under the direction of Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans, has taken a series of actions since March ...


Gay News

THE AMAZON TRAIL Mick's potato fertilizer 2020-03-17 - When I asked for advice about growing potatoes, our friend Mary wrote, "Here is what Mick does: blood meal, green sand, or wood ...


Gay News

Stop comparing coronavirus to early HIV/AIDS. Just stop. 2020-03-17 - People ask me if our lives today feel like the early years of HIV/AIDS, and I want to scream. There is no comparison. ...


Gay News

Open letter about Coronavirus and the LGBTQ+ communities 2020-03-11 - New York, NY - Over 100 national and local organizations have signed on to an open letter to health and media outlining how ...


Gay News

VIEWS In 2020, being queer could be key to a courageous career 2020-02-08 - Remember, in The Wizard of Oz, how the Cowardly Lion—when he got to see the wizard—was like, "What? I already had courage? WTH?" ...


Gay News

OPINION 'Trans-formal' education 2020-02-05 - "The year started well, but substitute teachers were not told about Dave's name," my friend Pat told me. "My son was called a ...


Gay News

VIEWS Warren's America would center our voices 2020-01-28 - Days before I marched in my first Pride Parade in 2015, I waited anxiously for the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision that ...


 



Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.